Joyce Manor and AJJ (formerly Andrew Jackson Jihad) have both made their presence known through relentless touring and fitting the framework of their respective genres just so damn perfectly. They both create catchy and resonate tunes, through either a more pop or more folky approach to the modern punk sound. These bands are well known in Grand Rapids, especially since they’ve both played to large audiences at the Pyramid Scheme before.
Mannequin Pussy, however, is new to Grand Rapids. They were plucked out of Philadelphia and brought on as the opening band for the entire three week tour with AJJ and Joyce Manor, and made it known that they’re a force to be reckoned with. When the first band of the night out performs the second, I can only hope that they have a headlining spot the next time they come to town. Their set was sweet but too short; every song grew faster and more intense, culminating in a relentlessly energetic final few songs. They were done before I could fully appreciate what I was witnessing.
I caught up with the band after the show to chat about their first time playing in Grand Rapids, the power of the internet, and their favorite hip hop artists.
So how did you guys end up on this tour with Joyce Manor?
AJJ heard our record and sent us an email, then they asked us to join this tour with them. It’s all three of us for two and a half weeks.
How did you guys know AJJ?
We didn’t really. We had both played the Fest in Gainesville, and we have mutual friends in other bands, who suggested us to them. I guess they listened to the album and thought we’re cool.
Have you had any best-of or worst-of moments on tour so far? Where did you guys start the tour?
Dallas. That show was really sick. Everything has been good so far, I don’t think we’ll have any dark moments. Actually, wait, we did get pulled over twice. We got pulled over once, and then the very next day again. It was a bummer but all is well. We’re law-abiding citizens, so it’s all good. We’re about legal fun.
In that case, I’ll keep what’s in my pocket, in my pocket….How did you guys get on Tiny Engines (record label)?
We put out a tape, and they heard the tape and reached out to us, asked to put out our record. We got very lucky. We’re very easy people to work with.
Are you guys looking forward to any cities in particular on the tour?
New Orleans! We haven’t played in most of the cities on this tour, almost all of them, so they’re all pretty exciting.
I’ve never been to New Orleans, but it sounds exciting. I hope Grand Rapids was exciting for you.
We played Detroit with Colleen Green before, but playing in Michigan has always been fun for us. People were messing up my pinball game before the show with nice compliments, I said something like “oh thanks, but oh no I’m on my last ball…I can’t talk and play this game”.
You guys told me not to ask about the name, so I feel like I have to ask about the name.
That’s not how that works, dude.
Have you run into any problems because of your name?
What is the meat slave title about?
We have a trilogy of songs. Most of those are pretty old songs, and I think we just thought it was funny. We probably just wrote them quickly in succession, so they became the same title, 1, 2, and 3. We should do a set where we play the trilogy in order.
It would be interesting to hear them in order. Do you guys think you’ve evolved in your song writing?
Definitely. I hope so. That’s the only thing you can hope for when you’re doing anything, to get better and evolve, see it grow. At least try new things.
In what ways are you trying new things from the first record to now?
Well, we added a bassist and Bear. It’s been about three years of really touring, so we’re really just trying to be the best band that we can be.
You guys sounded really tight, really together. Every song got better and faster, solid set.
Oh cool, thanks! We threw some new songs in the middle of the set, so…
Is this tour like a test try for those songs?
Yes, they are mostly ready to be recorded.
[Security guard interrupts] Great job tonight. I bought your CD.
So I saw that tweet at Big Sean. That could be an awesome collaboration. Who’s after Big Sean?
Whoever rips us off next.
How many dates are left on the tour?
12, and a few days off in Cinci.
I’ve never really spent time in Cinci.
Well you’re fuckin up, cause Cinci is awesome. But it shocked us too. I think what you really come to learn as a musician travelling the country is that there are wonderful parts to every city or towns in America. Places that are written off the map even. For the Super Bowl, we’re (JM, AJJ) all renting a giant house together. A huge 7 bedroom house. Watch some football, eat some chili.
That’s the American Dream.
Three bands, living in peace and harmony, for one night. I just remembered we booked another show in Columbus on our other day off. So we have one day off. We should ask AJJ and JM to open for US at that show.
Last question: dream opening band – who would it be?
I would like to open for Courtney Barnett right now, cause she’s really cool and I would like to see her play every night. I always say Miley Cyrus ‘cause I think it would be a great fit. Young Thug. I would love to do a hip hop and punk show. It’s a beautiful combination. We’re all cut from the same cloth, HH and punk are based in DIY, so there’s always gonna be a relationship there, it just needs to be embraced more.
Follow Mannequin Pussy during the rest of their tour here. And stay tuned for that new album!